Scientists Evaluating U.S. Climate Change Efforts

February 14, 2007

 The direction of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) likely will become clearer at the end of February 2007 (or the beginning of March) with the release of two National Academies' National Research Council (NRC) reports.

The CCSP was formed by the Bush administration in 2002 to coordinate climate change research among 13 federal agencies. The NRC concluded in 2004 that the CCSP was overseeing an underfunded effort, and that the group needed to prove it had scientific credibility and wasn't just a political tool. Feb. 18, 2004, NRC release and report.

One upcoming NRC report will address lessons learned from previous US assessments of global climate change (not those conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The review is expected to be technical in nature, and isn't expected to address political controversies over previous US assessments. But the NRC findings, and CCSP's subsequent response to them, likely will provide insight into how the US will move forward.

  • "Analysis of Global Change Assessments," Bill Kearney, 202-334-2144. The report's release should be available here. Details on the committee and its assignment are available here.

The other report will evaluate a draft CCSP report about scientific uncertainty that is scheduled to be finalized in May 2007 (CCSP report:"Best Practice Approaches for Characterizing, Communicating, and Incorporating Scientific Uncertainty in Decisionmaking"). The uncertainty of climate science has been a key focus of political decision makers, and the CCSP report's target audience includes politicians, the general public, and the media. The NRC report will be a scientific peer review of the draft CCSP report, evaluating the approach and findings for validity, competence, and objectivity.

  • "Review of the CCSP's Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.2, Characterizing Scientific Uncertainty," Bill Kearney, 202-334-2144. The report's release should be available here. Details on the committee and its assignment are available here.

The NRC is also expecting to review a number of other CCSP efforts and products during the next few years.